Church expansion plans get first look from county commission |

Church expansion plans get first look from county commission

DILLON VALLEY – Dillon Valley’s Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church is feeling growing pains and plans to alleviate them in no small way.

Church leaders want to tear down the current facility and build one four times its size, going from 4,200 square feet to about 17,400 square feet. By comparison, the recently expanded Dillon Community Church measures 18,500 square feet.

In addition to a larger sanctuary, the new church would include a parish hall and classroom space. Plans also call for building a large parking lot on the other side of the street, which means removing the three houses now standing there. The church bought those three homes in 2000, its leaders thinking then the church might need to use the lots for its future expansion.

The Snake River Planning Commission took its first look at the proposal Thursday night and recommends the church do a traffic study and wildlife survey before formally submitting the plans.

Those studies are small impediments compared to the big issue – money. The estimated cost of the expansion is $4.5 million. The church has about $1 million.

“We’re going to have to raise $2 million through a fund drive, and borrow about $1.4 from the archdiocese,” said Herman Haering, chairman of the church’s building committee.

So far, neighbors like what they see.

“It’s a beautiful church, said Sue Gruber, whose Deerpath Road home will be close to the planned parking lot. “According to the plan, the parking lot is very well landscaped, and the lighting is low. After seeing the plan, I feel much better about the whole situation.

“Right now on a Sunday, the cars are parked all over the road, so I think in some ways this will be positive.”

“I was overall pretty impressed with what they did,” said Tom Williams, who also lives on Deerpath. “At this stage, it looks like the church is going to be a beautiful addition.”

Church leaders are pinning their hopes on a groundbreaking in two years. They’ve already spent a decade looking for a site, until recently focusing intently on property near the Dillon Cemetery. When county officials made it clear they preferred to see that area remain open, the church shifted its focus back to the existing site.

The current facility can hardly contain its grow-

ing congregation.

“It probably will suffice during the off-months,” Haering said. “After that, it’s standing-room only, and sometimes it’s standing-room outside the church, too.”

Because there is no space to hold religious education classes, the church now leases space at the Summit Middle School for the one-Sunday-a-month lessons.

The three homes now owned by the church won’t be razed to make way for the parking lot, Haering said. Plans call for relocating them elsewhere, ideally in Summit County.

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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